“Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts
“Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts depicts a distinctive Australian subject of a stagecoach being held up by bushrangers in a forested section of an isolated road. Tom Roberts painted this work in 1895 while staying at a sheep station near a small town called Inverell in northern New South Wales, Australia. It was at this sheep station that he also painted “The Golden Fleece,” a famous painting depicting sheep shearing.
The notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt had been active near this sheep station at Inverell, more than twenty-five years before this painting had been made. Still, it would have influenced Roberts and helped him conceived the idea of painting this subject.
This painting presents the story of Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward) holding up the Inverell–Glen Innes mail-coach. Roberts is beautifully depicting a crackling dry landscape in the heat and light of a high summer’s day in the Australian bush. It took 33 years for this iconic painting to find a buyer, and in 1927, Roberts reworked this painting to simplify the work making it more abstract.
Tom Roberts was a member of the famous ‘Heidelberg School’ of Australian artists of the late 1800s and early 2000s. These painters introduced an Australian style of depicting the bush, using impressionist principles to capture the light, color, and atmosphere of the Australian bush landscape and sky.
Other members of the ‘Heidelberg School’ included Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Frederick Mc Cubbin, David Davies, Jane Sutherland, and Walter Withers. The school was closely tied to an emerging Australian nationalism, which saw the acceptance of Australian scenes and people as suitable subjects for art.
Tom Roberts was a leading figure in promoting open (in full) air painting. He encouraged other Australian artists to capture the national life of Australia. He is best known for his “national narratives,” among them Shearing the Rams, A Break Away! and Bailed Up.
- Title: Bailed Up
- Artist: Tom Roberts
- Year Painted: 1895
- Reworked: 1927
- Medium: oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 134.5 cm × 182.8 cm (53.0 in × 72.0 in)
- Museums: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
- Year Acquired: 1933
- Name: Thomas William “Tom” Roberts
- Born: 1856 – Dorchester, Dorset, England
- Died: 1931 (aged 75) – Kallista, Victoria, Australia
- Major Paintings:
A Tour of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
- “The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon” by Edward Poynter
- “Vive L’Empereur” by Edouard Detaille
- “Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts
- “Cymon and Iphigenia” by Lord Frederic Leighton
- “Summer Time” by Rupert Bunny
- Diogenes by John William Waterhouse
“There is nothing more Australian than spending time in somebody else’s country.”
– Australian Anon
Photo Credit:1) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Tom_Roberts_-Bailed_up-_Google_Art_Project.jpg 2) See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; 2) JC Merriman https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ 3) JC Merriman – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/